Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oh, Santa...

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas. I got a little over excited this year and decorated the day before Thanksgiving. Well, almost. We got the living room set up and the first tree up. We put up the second tree last night and today, if I ever get my room clean, I'll put up the last tree. Yeah, we like to decorate for Christmas in our house.

We've been in holiday mode for a while now though. A couple week before Thanksgiving, we were at the mall and Santa happened to be there for pictures. We weren't planning on it but there was no line, the kids were in a good mood and so we though, "Why not?" Another surprise experience. Our son, purposely anti social (it's all an act... he likes the attention it gets him...) saw Santa and acted like he'd found his long lost best friend. He climbed right up next to him and started chatting away. Blew my mind. He NEVER does that. Our oldest, the one who is usually delightfully talkative to strangers, clammed up and didn't say a word. Our youngest, at nearly one and a half, cracked me up. She sat on Santa's lap with the most serious expression on her face. Like she decided she had to put on some tough girl act and didn't want every one to know that deep down inside, her inner child was elated to see the man in red. Her comically thick eyebrows made it even funnier. Thankfully, the photographer was a pro at dealing with kids that refuse to smile and she managed to get a crack of one out of her.

After leaving Santa, we made the mistake of explaining the nice/naughty list thing with the kids. For starters, they're now constantly asking if they're on the nice list. Really, if there was such a thing, most of the time, they'd be on the naughty list! Then, while explaining the list, we had to explain that Santa "sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows if you've been bad or good..." You know the rest. THIS freaked out our oldest. The idea of a strange bearded man is something that she's having a hard time comfortably wrapping her head around. We're going to the The Elf on the Shelf with the kids for the first time this year. Think she'll be even more freaked out knowing that Santa has sent an elf to constantly keep an eye on them? Yeah. This could end badly. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Next, we've got the issue of the identity of Baby Jesus. We are constantly reminding the kids that Christmas isn't about getting gifts and Santa and all the rest of the hoopla. They are very aware that Christmas is Jesus' birthday and that's the real reason why we're celebrating. We've even discussed what gifts they can give Him that'll make Him happy (my favorite is obedience to your parents). However, something I'm having a hard time explaining is who exactly Joseph is. I made the kids set up the Nativity with me (more like made them watch since I got tired of gluing heads back on the Wise Men last year). While setting it up, we talked about the Christmas story and who was who and where they came from and what role they played. I don't know how or when I finally came to understand it all when I was a kid but my oldest just isn't getting the whole "Joseph was Mary's husband but not Jesus' Daddy" thing. I guess I can understand why it's confusing to a kid who has no complete concept of multiple parents or theology or deity. But I just can't seem to explain it in a way that she understands. I think it may be just the way her brain works... (Me: Alex, get a grip. Alex: *looking around confused* Where's a grip, Mom?... understand what I'm saying?).

Then we've got  Saint Scrooge. We packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child this year. It's something we did as kids in my home and I wanted my kids to do it too in hopes for them to understand that giving to others who don't have anything is important, that the world is bigger than they are and that just as God gave to us, it is good for us to give to those in need. I let them help pick out what we packed and then they made cards to put in the boxes and they helped pack them. This whole thing resonated with my three year old son. The other day, I had one of those "proud mommy moments" until it turned into a weird "my son is a Scrooge" moment. He's got a Tonka truck that's big enough to ride in if he wanted to. A couple day ago, he took a bunch of his toys (and a few of his sisters') and was pushing it around saying that he was delivering his toys to kids that didn't have any. Made my heart melt (which started leaking out my eyes somehow...). I was touched that my son would play at giving to others. That even when he had a chance to be doing whatever he wanted to do, he was pretending to take care of others. His younger sister walks up to take her baby doll out of the truck and he screams at her. When I asked what was wrong, he responded that "she can't have these toys! I put her on the naughty list!" Awesome, Scrooge. Awesome. He also told me the other day that he wanted Santa for Christmas. When I asked what he meant, he said, "Well, if I have Santa, he can give me presents all the time." Oh, boy...

We're looking forward to all the great events our town is throwing for the holidays (an elf workshop, breakfast with Santa, light hunting...). I'm sure I'll have an entertaining story to share concerning the Elf on the Shelf. In the meantime, Santa better keep me on the "nice list" for having to deal with my three kids during the holidays ;)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Being a Soccer Mom: Not What I Expected

Every time I get on here to write, I realize that it's been way too long since my last post. This time I have a legitimate excuse for my absentmindedness and for now, I'll blame it on the holiday season even though I know for a fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with that.

Back in September, I officially became a soccer mom as my oldest daughter (4) started her very first season of soccer. What my mom calls "herd ball" because at that age, they all just herd around the ball (which surprisingly wasn't the case for this team... there were several little girls with some real skill on the team!!!). For starters, I'd like to say "Thank You" to God for putting her on the team she wound up on. I think that this group of girls and the coach she got were exactly what she needed for her first experience with sports. Alex is my gentler child. She needs quieter nurturing and soft words and lots of vocal encouragement and that's exactly what she got. Actually, what she needed surprised the heck out of me.

At home, Alex will play soccer in our back yard, running back and forth for who knows how long with the ball, trying to weave in between the cones and score in the little goal we bought for her. We honestly thought that she'd be a star out on the field and that she'd soar through this season. I don't want to sound unkind, but that's not exactly what happened. I didn't expect her to be super outgoing because I know that (outside the house) she's quiet but I didn't expect her to be quite shy. I didn't expect her to cry and run off the field the first time she got knocked down in a game and I definitely didn't expect to have to constantly yell to her to turn around to face the game as she randomly stopped running and decided to take in the surrounding scenery. I was thrilled to see her constantly improving and bewildered at her constantly divulging information to strangers about who knows what. Putting it lightly, her first soccer season  wasn't what any of us expected, really. But I am excited to say that she had a blast, is bummed that this season is over and is looking forward to playing in the spring.

Last month, our son (3) started soccer as well. He participates in a clinic at the indoor soccer facilities. The smell of the place brings back memories from when I played indoor soccer in high school. Actually, now that I think about it, I must be where my son gets it from. I was there just to have fun (I had NO skill so fun was all I had going for me). I didn't take it all that seriously and was kinda a goofball about it. So is my son. In fact, so much so that often, I'm wishing the place were a sand pit and I an ostrich so I could hide my head in the sand. When my husband signed up our son, the plan was for the two of them to go together (it's a parental participation kind of skill building clinic) and enjoy some "boy time" playing soccer together. That first night, when I came home, my husband looked so forlorn that I thought a family member had died. Nope. He just spent 45 minutes alone with our son. As he expressed his frustration with our son after the ridiculous experience they'd just had, I wanted to laugh out loud (because I'd been there myself and was glad some one else now understood what I've been going through) and then wanted to cry (because I've been there myself and was glad some one else now understood what I've been going through). The next week came around and I offered to go with him instead. Not sure what I was thinking. This kid is a nut. For starters, he thinks the fake turf is real grass and he will roll around on it, stroke it, rub his face on it and smile like the Cheshire Cat the entire time. Then, when we're doing the relay races (in teams with the other parents and kids) his gooberish stubborn streak kicks in and when you tell him that it's his turn to go and that he needs to do it, he folds his arms across his chest and yells "NO"... while all 20 other kids wait behind him for their own turn. Or when the instructor says, "Parents, slowly dribble the ball down the field and kids, try to take it from your parent" I dribble and my delightful son runs behind me laughing and spanking my butt. This too, is not what I was expecting. Again though, I'm thankful that he has the instructor that he has because this guy is great with him. He laughs at him (when I'm trying not to cry out of embarrassment) and gives him huge high-fives when he scores a goal.

I'm told by other "soccer parents" that the first go around is always the weirdest or the most unexpected or, sometimes, the most frustrating. They've all told me that the second experience will be much different and rewarding for everyone involved. I don't doubt this at all concerning Alex. She has it in her personality to want to do better every time. To be excited about improvement. Anthony though... we'll have to wait and see. Is there a sport that you can play by yourself and be a total nut job? That'd be for him.

So, I'm looking forward to watching Alex play soccer in the spring. I am proud of her for trying and for not letting her fears get the best of her. Anthony... I'm looking forward to finding the right fit for him.

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